There’s a prevalent misconception in America that hunger and homelessness are primarily third-world problems. When I was younger and first saw the numerous advertisements encouraging Americans to donate money for children and families in developing countries (such as India and the Philippines), they’d show the most heart-wrenching images. Images of unwashed children wearing mere scraps of clothing will forever be seared into my mind.
However, after watching “Hunger in America” (available to watch on Epoch Cinema), an eye-opening 2014 documentary by Nashville-based filmmaker Zac Adams, I have a new perspective on what the face of hunger and poverty looks like.
If people think about hunger in America, they often assume (as I used to) that it only exists in the squalid environs of inner cities and ghettos (such as Skid Row in Los Angeles or Kensington Park in Philadelphia). However, hunger and food insecurity—simply put, not knowing where one’s next meal is coming from—are not limited to these areas.
Adams attempts to dispel common misconceptions about food insecurity.
The documentary consists of interviews with people who run non-profit organizations that help feed the food insecure, pastors who are actively helping those in need, and people who have been directly affected by hunger.
Tom Henry is the Executive Director of the faith-based hunger relief organization Feed America First. Interviewed in the film, Henry points out that Americans who are experiencing food insecurity often don’t look impoverished. They could be middle-class folks going through hard times. They could be your next-door neighbors who seem to have everything under control.
There are three major groups where food insecurity is prevalent—the disabled, senior citizens, and children. Unlike many, these groups of people can’t do much to improve their financial situation. Thus, they can fall into food insecurity and be unable to get themselves out.
The disabled may not be able to handle the physical or mental requirements for employment. Senior citizens rely on a fixed income from whatever retirement and/or social security income they have. And while children may have the desire to work so that they can help out their families, they are too young to legally be employed in America.
Couple those circumstances with the current financial hardships that America is going through due to out-of-control inflation (tellingly, many people call it “Bidenflation”) and subsequent supply chain breakdowns unfolding before our collective eyes, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
And although a record number of Americans are trying to make ends meet by working multiple jobs (an increase of 596,000 over the past year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics), the aforementioned three groups are not able to do this, since they can’t work in the first place.
Not only are drastic price increases for food (and fuel) severely negatively impacting at-risk groups, but they are also impacting the charitable organizations that seek to feed them.
As one interviewee says, “Someone you know is hungry today.”
Before the current financial crisis hit America, many Americans were already living paycheck to paycheck. They were just one minor complication (such as a minor illness, home or car repairs) away from incurring a financial setback. A major crisis (major illnesses, car accidents, natural disasters, serious crimes) could leave them homeless. And now that the American economy has gone into a tailspin, hunger and poverty have drastically accelerated, with no end in sight.
One of the more interesting (and unexpected) things I learned from watching this revealing documentary is that even when people have the resources and access to food, they often lack the knowledge of how to properly prepare and store it.
There are many other things one can learn about hunger from this film, but I’ll leave those up to viewers to discover. As it stands, “Hunger in America” is a prescient and timely documentary that holds more weight now than ever before. It’s available to watch on Epoch Cinema.
‘Hunger in America’
Director: Zac Adams
Running Time: 1 hour
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: May 7, 2014
Rated: 3.5 stars out of 5
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.